15 AUGUST 2022
© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.
Last Saturday (13 August) the isolated island of St Helena, halfway between Africa and South America welcomed its first scheduled flight since the outbreak of Covid.
For over two years the island had operated stringent pandemic entry regulations, clear-cut and very much anti-entry for outsiders. It has now dropped its Covid rules.
St Helena, a British Overseas Territory, opened its airport in 2017 and will now again host a fortnightly flight from Johannesburg, which will go weekly from 8 October.
After the high profile opening of the airport, Airlink introduced services from Johannesburg and latterly Cape Town but these were suspended with the outbreak of Covid. Titan Airways of Stansted have also flown to St Helena with special charters, the aircraft refuelling enroute. The island has proved to be a popular stopover for executive and military aircraft to and from South America.
What should have been a boom time for St Helena culminating with the bicentenary centenary of Napoleon’s death on the island, and perhaps a visit by the French President never happened. As far as St Helena was concerned it became a very low-key affair.
St Helena measures about 10 miles by 5 miles with a population of 4,439 as per the 2021 census. It is a volcanic island but inland it is green, mainly due to introduced vegetation. Jamestown, the capital, is quaint, with a selection of shops, a number of small hotels, including the Mantis opened in 2017, and a prison.
With the airport once again operational the potential for tourism is ready to be developed. The French Longwood House, the final home of Napoleon, and owned by the French State, is a must, as is his original empty tomb, his remains now interned at Les Invalides in Paris.
St Helena is best described as a subtropical paradise where the mountainous terrain and micro-climates create an astounding diversity of landscapes all within a few minutes’ drive. In the grounds of Plantation House, the residence of the Governor, lives Jonathan, a giant tortoise, believed to be the world’s oldest living land animal.
BTN’S Malcolm Ginsberg joined the inaugural flight to St Helena on Saturday 14 October 2017. He says it is on his wish list to return (with wife Linda).
See BTN 16 October 2017 ON TOUR: St Helena.
BTN does not usually report on diplomatic placements but last Saturday, coinciding with the lifting of restrictions and first flight, Air Commodore Nigel James Phillips, CBE, former Governor of the Falkland Islands, took up position as the new Governor. His other previous appointments include that of Defence Attaché at both Stockholm and Warsaw.
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